OSHA to recognize Veolia safety program at Valero refinery in Houston

Veolia’s site-based industrial cleaning operations at Valero's 160,000 bpd refinery in Houston, Texas, has received a one of the highest honors from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), company officials said on Wednesday.

OSHA is accepting Veolia's Houston operations into its voluntary protection program (VPP) at the Star Award level, the highest level granted. OSHA says it will formally recognize Veolia’s team at an upcoming ceremony for its efforts in achieving exemplary occupational safety and health systems.

Houston Refinery“Without exception, from our C-suite to front-line personnel, each of us have made the commitment to be actively invested in safety,” said Steve Hopper, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Veolia's industrial environmental business in North America. 

“Each employee takes responsibility and accountability for the safety of themselves and their co-workers across all our work sites and facilities," he added. "This certification is greatly appreciated and valued. We view it as recognition of our commitment to and belief in our continuous improvement philosophy.”

Veolia officials say that best practices and other valuable concepts that Veolia employees learn through participation in the VPP are shared and implemented at Veolia worksites across the country. 

To date, Veolia Environnement North America holds twelve Star VPP certifications: one wastewater treatment facility, five at industrial cleaning and maintenance operations and six at hazardous and regulated waste management sites. The company also has additional sites pending certification.

During past VPP audits, OSHA has identified two Veolia programs as industry best practices, both of which are active at the Valero Houston site. 

They include the company’s “Act Now For Safety” program, which gives every Veolia employee not only the authority, but the obligation to correct any unsafe condition in the workplace.  As a reminder, each employee carries an “Act Now For Safety” card bearing the signature of the company’s CEO. 

The other best practice is the Peer-2-Peer Safety Observation & Intervention Program. That method enables active employee involvement through peer-to-peer observations to identify and eliminate at-risk or unsafe work practices and unsafe working conditions. 

The objective is to reduce accident and employee injury potential in the work environment and raise employee safety awareness through training, observation, intervention and correction of at-risk or unsafe work practices and unsafe working conditions.

The VPP was created by OSHA in 1982 to encourage industry-related facilities to strive for safety excellence. OSHA says that VPP sites are honored for showing commitment to employee protection that extends beyond normal standards. 

Companies who achieve the VPP Star Award display injury and illness rates at or below the national average of their competitors. 

Veolia's site-based team at the Valero Houston refinery facility provides vacuum and hydro-blasting services. The company has worked on-site since 2009.

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